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Soaring with students

Soaring with students

Zeakia Jordan '24 May 09, 2023

Faculty and staff have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for nearly two years to make the We Soar launch a success. But it couldn’t have been possible without one group — UD students.

Planning for We Soar’s launch started in January 2022 when students, faculty and staff from different departments and majors came together to brainstorm. In the end, the group walked away agreeing that the We Soar launch would include elements of spoken word, theatrical performances and filmmaking. And students were going to help make it all happen.

Behind the scenes photo of two students acting out a scene.
Caroline Herling '23 and Jada Gee '23.


Caroline Herling ’23, a theater major, was ecstatic when she was asked to be a part of the production that took place the evening of April 19 in the Dayton Arcade in front of more than 500 community members.

“Being able to truly help UD in a way that I didn’t think my talents would be able to, means everything to me,” Herling said. 

“Being able to truly help UD in a way that I didn’t think my talents would be able to, means everything to me.”

Last summer, Herling joined together with fellow theater major Jada Gee ’23 and professor Michelle Hayford, director of the Theatre, Dance and Performance Technology Program, in a group to brainstorm how they would craft a performance demonstrating one of UD’s core values — diversity and inclusion. The performers wanted to write a story to demonstrate how students  of all backgrounds can attend the University of Dayton without worrying about if they belong on this campus. 

“Every time you get an opportunity to be on stage or in front of a camera, you have to snatch that up and really absorb it,” said Herling. “I thoroughly appreciated this opportunity, especially because every time I work on a project like this I am given chances to get a little more comfortable in front of an audience whether it’s live or not.”  

The end result was a performance inspired and influenced by playwright Thornton Wilder’s Our Town including more than 10 student actors and the ensemble of the Common Good Players. The production included musical performances by the University Chorale, the Pride of Dayton marching band, the Flyer Pep Band and the First Flight Saxophone Quartet. 

Sophomore Hayden Parsons, a communications major, worked closely with marketing and communications staff members on the We Soar campaign launch video, helping them film, produce, direct and edit. With the excitement of being a part of a project of this stature, the cast and crew anxiously waited for April 19, 2023, but because they were “sworn to secrecy,” until then, said Parsons. 

Behind the scenes photo of two students acting out a scene.
Herling and Gee shooting the We Soar campaign video.


“It’s been a long time coming … I think that the most difficult part of this whole process was keeping quiet, especially because we’re doing something amazing for our university and we couldn’t tell anyone about it,” said Parsons.

As a way to capture all of the team’s hard work, Parsons created a behind-the-scenes video featuring script writing, video shoots, rehearsals and short interviews.

Both Parsons and Herling said they appreciated the chance to be a part of something big at UD and have a unique experiential learning opportunity.

“I am most proud that I was able to truly witness UD’s community come together in the most genuine way for this one common goal,” said Parsons. 

Behind the scenes

All cheers